Rumors of the TT's demise have been circulating recently, and now Automotive News has reported Audi will be eliminating the TT sports car from its portfolio, likely replacing it with an electric vehicle. It’s part of its corporate realignment to make itself “a provider of holistic CO2-neutral premium mobility.” First launched in 1998, the TT’s novel styling gave Audi a brand identity that continues to this day, jump-starting Audi's rise as a direct competitor to BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The realignment, which focuses on sustainability and electrification, was announced at Audi's annual shareholders meeting. "In the medium term we want to have the strongest range of electric models among premium competitors," CEO Bram Schot said. The automaker said that within five years its lineup will feature at least 30 electrified vehicles, with 20 of them fully electric. As Audi is taking the lead on fuel cell development in the Volkswagen Group, some of those electric vehicles may be hydrogen powered.
Sustainability has a financial meaning as well as environmental, and Audi will be eliminating or replacing models that aren't particularly profitable. Schot told AN that the TT will be replaced by a “emotive” EV in the same price range. With Audi's push into electrification, it's surprising he didn't go for an “eMotive” pun.
Audi's new flagship, the A8, may also get a paradigm shift, with Schot saying it could be a “completely new concept,” likely to powered by batteries or fuel cells. "The next generation of the Audi A8 might well be all-electric. Nothing has been decided yet, but I can well imagine it," Schot said. Audi's chief executive also more or less confirmed earlier reports that the next R8 will be electric. Apparently, a V10 combustion engined sports car doesn't align well with the company's holistic, CO2-neutral vision of the future.
Electrification comes with costs. Audi's goal of being carbon-neutral includes its factories and its suppliers. The company says that its assembly plants will be CO2-neutral by 2025 and that it is negotiating to include carbon-neutrality in its contracts with suppliers.
The cost of electrification also means more expensive development and smaller profit margins. Notwithstanding those concerns, Audi is pushing forward. Chief Financial Officer Alexander Seitz said, "As finance chief, I am already looking forward to every electric car sold, even if their profitability cannot yet achieve that of conventional vehicles." To make up for that lower profitability, Seitz the company will be trading in carbon credits. "CO2 credits are hard cash in today's world," he told the gathered investors.